‘The Notebook’ author Nicholas Sparks speaks at Stark campus


Author Nicholas Sparks stands at the podium at Kent State Stark campus on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

Lauren Crenshaw

New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks spoke to a crowded audience at Kent State Stark on Wednesday. 

Sparks, who is known for bestselling romance novels such as “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook,” reflected on some of his earliest novels and how members in his family portrayed characters in these books.

“The Notebook,” famous for its heart-wrenching love story, was based on the grandparents of Sparks’ then-wife, Cathy.

Cathy’s grandfather told Sparks about his love story the day after Sparks and Cathy’s wedding, which inspired him to write “The Notebook.”

Listening to the story of their 66-year marriage taught Sparks a great lesson: True love does last.

Audience members appeared moved by Sparks’ stories.

“I was touched to hear this story came from real events. It almost put me to tears,” audience member Kathy Schmitt said.

Sparks proceeded to reflect on another one of his novels, “Message in a Bottle,” and spoke about how the story portrayed his mother and father.

Sparks’ parents were married for 26 years until 1989, when his mother fell off of a horse and hit her head on a rock. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage. 

The character Theresa Osborne, from “Message in a Bottle,” was based on Sparks’ mother, and Garrett Blake was based on his father.

“A Walk to Remember” also brought inspiration by someone close to Sparks — his sister.

Jamie Sullivan, the character based off of Sparks’ sister, was a quiet and sweet girl who dreamt of getting married one day, but was diagnosed with cancer.

Sparks’ sister, Danielle, had a love story that played out similarly to Jamie’s in the novel.

Some members in the audience traveled long distances to hear Sparks’ speech.

“I drove here from Michigan because I love his work and reading his books in my free time is my favorite thing to do,” audience member Cassandra Hess said.

Sparks said he wrote these books because they came from a special place. He wanted to move his readers through all the emotions of life within a single book.

“All great love stories end in tragedy, because that’s what makes love real,” Sparks said.

Lauren is the libraries reporter. Contact her at [email protected].